The final defeat of U.S. imperialism was foreshadowed by last year’s defeat of the Bolivia coup
Last year, the full fury of U.S. imperialism’s Latin American terror mechanisms failed in the face of the power of the masses. A year after the Organization of American States fabricated supposed evidence of election fraud, creating a coup that overthrew the democratically elected Evo Morales, Evo’s Movement for Socialism (MAS) party won the new election and inaugurated MAS presidential candidate Luis Arce. This election was only able to occur following months of relentless revolt by Bolivia’s indigenous people, who had forced the coup regime to allow for voting to take place under the threat of irrepressible further unrest.
It’s no wonder why this facet of the coup’s defeat was able to take place: the coup regime was simply too militarily weak to prevent the MAS militias and demonstrators from making Bolivia’s U.S.-backed dictator flee the Capitol in a helicopter, which would have happened if the regime had continued to refuse to hold elections. But it’s harder to discern how the anti-imperialists overcame the additional obstacle the U.S. empire had put in front of them: the prospect of a second Bolivia coup, one which was intended to overturn the results of the election and keep the country a neo-colony.
After it became apparent that the reactionaries couldn’t hold onto power within Bolivia through electoral means, the Bolivian coup regime’s Minister of Defense Luis Fernando López said that “The military High Command is already in preliminary talks” about a coup against Arce. “The commander of the armed forces is working on all of this,” he continued. “Right now we have a united armed forces… I guarantee you that this won’t fail.”
His plan was to import mercenaries from the U.S. for what was reported to be a months-long mission within Bolivia, one where the private military contractors would pose as unassuming bystanders through wearing plainclothes before forcibly deposing Arce. He had the backing of Joe Pereira, a shadowy figure at the center of the coup plot who had gone to Fort Bragg to train for the United States Special Operations Command prior to returning to Bolivia.
As The Canary’s Kit Klarenberg wrote about this plan when emails between some of its earlier stage’s plotters got leaked last October, “the plan is far more practically developed than the fiasco which unfolded near Venezuela’s shores in May. For one, there appears to already be a constituent headquarters in the country to facilitate the operation. And hundreds of contractors are apparently signed up and awaiting transfer — if they’re not there already, of course.” So why did the counterrevolutionaries fail?
As Ryan Grim of The Intercept’s podcast Deconstructed assessed last month, it was because the counterrevolutionaries had found themselves too lacking in popular support for such a coup to have been narratively manageable:
They didn’t anticipate the size of the victory, and they needed some level of public legitimacy. When they took Evo out in 2019, they had managed to fill the street with protesters who had a variety of different grievances, but, on the back of that, were then able to push him out and seize power. As it became just increasingly clear that there had been such an overwhelming victory, you saw the same thing happen in the United States, Joe Biden’s 7-million-vote victory, just kind of in the public’s mind, put to bed the whole notion that this was still a contested election, even as the outgoing president continued to push it in the courts, and push it up on cable news and wherever else he could, there was just a sense that you could feel that it was over. And my sense is that the same kind of certainty among the public in Bolivia that this was over made it very difficult for López, and Pereira, and the others to round up the co-conspirators that they would have needed.
The second Bolivia coup failed for the same reason the MAGA movement’s January 6 attempt at a reactionary anti-democratic takeover failed: what the coupists were trying to do was too detached from material reality. Trump’s conspiracy theories about the election being stolen ran so counter to the actual circumstances that his far-right terrorist incitement was rendered ineffectual. (Though the MAGA movement’s loss didn’t result in a victory for the class struggle, but in a fortification of the power of the liberal class. Something the U.S. proletariat must also overcome.)
And the parallel narratives the Bolivia coup plotters were prepared to put forth, ones about the MAS somehow perpetrating election fraud that called for again overturning the election, were preemptively rendered ineffectual by Arce’s margin of victory. A margin that Bolivia’s rightists couldn’t anticipate because of how gripped they were in their fantasies of massive support for their racist, Zionist, anti-environmental, anti-human rights, anti-democratic, pro-imperialist, free-market fundamentalist agenda.
As Peru’s fascist Fujimori has tried to prevent the inauguration of indigenous socialist Castillo following this year’s election within the country, the same obstacle has prevented the forces of reactionary coupism. Fujimori’s stoking of anti-communism and racism to attempt to delegitimize the vote count hasn’t stopped Castillo from becoming president, and from beginning to undo colonialism’s legacy by refusing to reside in Peru’s white supremacist governmental palace the House of Pizarro. If the trend continues, Bolsonaro’s own attempts to stir up fear of leftist electoral fraud in next’s year’s Brazilian presidential election won’t succeed at negating democracy, or at bringing back the era of dictatorship that Bolsonaro seeks to return the country to.
As Trump’s tactic of crying fraud spreads across the global right, material reality is getting in the way of it, to the effect that imperialism has been losing its grip across the Global South. In the long term, this detachment that the reactionaries have from the present conditions will doom them in a final sense. The reactionaries claim that capital remains strong despite its accelerating decline, that global warming isn’t to be taken seriously despite it producing more climate refugees every year, and that the pandemic is a trivial problem despite it currently rising again through the Delta variant. They also claim that America is assured to remain powerful despite Washington experiencing great geopolitical decline, largely due to the hubris of their own coup approaches.
In these conditions, revolution is ever more likely to sweep the reactionaries out of history, including within the core of global imperialism the United States. As Mao assessed, “I have said that all the reputedly powerful reactionaries are merely paper tigers. The reason is that they are divorced from the people. Look! Was not Hitler a paper tiger? Was Hitler not overthrown? I also said that the tsar of Russia, the emperor of China and Japanese imperialism were all paper tigers. As we know, they were all overthrown. U.S. imperialism has not yet been overthrown and it has the atom bomb. I believe it also will be overthrown. It, too, is a paper tiger.”
The second Bolivia coup’s failure has made it clear that when the final reactionaries are overthrown, they’ll be caught off guard, still believing that they’re not divorced from the people and that history will somehow vindicate their twisted cause.
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